Engineering Through Four Years With Mumbai University
“My teachers don’t ever bother to examine and accurately assess the output of my work”. “My students don’t ever bother to put in a respectable amount of effort and input for their work”. “My teachers don’t bother to give it their all when teaching a lecture/seminar series”. “My students don’t bother to pay attention during a single lecture/seminar series”. These include few of the several rationales, or should we call them ‘minor’ complaints, held by the students and teachers of Mumbai University. And all this excludes any such ‘minor’ complaints of or against the prestigious (bear in mind with very little real competition except from the IITs) institution of Mumbai University. Completing my tenure (I imagine all my friends breathing sighs of relief as I write this) under Mumbai University’s ‘prestigious’ four year undergraduate engineering program has given me some insight to analyze the viewpoint held by many that , in plain and simple words, what we gained in the four years was simply not worth it.
Freshmen year saw most of us enter with desire, determination and a willingness to work and learn (yes, imagining that I had ever felt that way seems absurd now). If I were to be completely honest, I’d say it took all of one year for ‘the system’ (‘prestigious’ system) to sap me of my perseverance. However, I have known many to last two years. No one generally makes it beyond the third year (shocker eh?!). When I entered college, the system was already tainted (in fact, I don think there was ever a time when it wasn’t). However, it would be fatuous on my part to not hold myself at least partially culpable for becoming a part of the system. But, friends, MUites and countrymen, the intent of this post is not to criticize or enumerate a long list of flaws against Mumbai University, it’s colleges or even it’s teachers.The main aim, in fact, is to focus on what Mumbai University has really taught me. I can imagine that many readers (if I did manage to get any) have already shut this post’s browser tab but for those of you who have made it thus far, I hope I can provide a fair perspective to what I think we have gained.
Let’s be honest. Mumbai University hasn’t taught me much academically. After all, how much can mugging a book front cover to back cover teach? Regardless, we have gained much. Many of these are several implicit aspects which most of us tend to ignore.
On the ides of May (gratefully not March, Mumbai University tends to make one superstitious), final year examinations start. And there I was, sitting and writing this blog post around five days prior to their commencement. I can positively assert that most of my colleagues too were spending their time in ways other than exam preparations (Facebook much?). Mumbai University has truly made us Bachelor’s of Working Under Pressure (Should. Be. A. Degree.). Four days are more than enough to start and complete a syllabus, regardless of the subject (try that commerce students). Without a doubt, those are four days of intense work under pressure and sleepless nights. But it is this very system which has made us pros at handling that sort of pressure and has given us the ability to get an output of Distinction with First Class with minimal effort. Ability achieved : minimum effort and maximum output. The smash and grab efforts we put in for our projects (my apologies to those who put in a year of effort) is an entirely similar example. It is this same street smart way of doing bookish things which is most likely to get us through each day professionally, regardless of whether one has been placed in Amazon or Accenture. After all, Mumbai University has taught me that Efficiency= Work Accomplished/Time Taken. There are an innumerable number of blogs, from several Forbes 500 personnel including Bill Gates, which advocate the minimum effort and maximum output philosophy.
The worst feeling in the world is waking up for the 8 a.m. lecture and not being allowed inside class for being 10 minutes late. I am sure every student of Mumbai University has experienced this kind of torture from at least one professor in their faculty and made sure that in all future weeks they have been on time for the 8 a.m. lecture of that particular professor. After all, what is worse than waking up early for a lecture and not being allowed to sit for it (well, ummm attending the lecture i guess but hey we need the 75% attendance. Beggers cant be chosers). Regardless of whether an 8 a.m. viva is to start at 8 a.m. (yeah right!!) or 3 p.m. we are always there at 8 a.m. It says something about what we have gained. Punctuality is the key to getting into the good books of your boss (or at least avoiding the bad books). Turn up at 9 a.m. sharp to check in (if only the office was a hotel). Stay till 5 p.m. to check out. Turn up at 10 50 a.m. for the project meeting to be held at 11. Studies show that an increasing number of employees are being fired for lack of punctuality (and it’s legal to do that). The same punctuality will go a very long way in preventing your *ss from being fired.
Yes, attending lectures is the biggest pain in the *ss. Alas, the 75% requirement (60 if you are lucky and if you are in Father Agnell College/Jail, well i guess 110%). It takes each and every ounce of perseverance and sustenance to get through the Monday to Friday 8 30 a.m. to 5 30 p.m. week of college. Well, the work scene is no different. And let’s be honest, when you are working, you are going to be working much more than your stipulated 40 hours a week (truly shocking *ahem ahem* not). Besides, you can bunk a lecture but you CANNOT do the same at work. If one has the perseverance to sit through a professor blabbering on erroneously for an hour or maybe two about how he feels that Fortan and Cobol are the future of programming languages (yes, I know the names of languages other than C++ and Java) or HCl is his preferred acid then you pretty much have the gut to get through even a sh*tty day of work. Gracias (No, Spanish isn’t a programming language professor xyz) Mumbai University.
Our spheres in high school and junior college were one’s of comfort. We knew the people that we interacted with since most of us were in our mother’s wombs or even before that. However, entering degree colleges introduced us to diverse and fascinating (or weird) groups of people. Certain amount of adapting was required. A similar situation will be present for most of those taking up jobs at the Amazons and Accentures. Sucking up to teachers has been a common trend in each branch of each college. Ironically enough, that is the same environment that we are to face professionally. Quoting a friend currently working for Deloitte who wished to be anonymous – “The professional world is a cruel and bitter place. Just yesterday, my colleagues and I received positive news about a deal with one of our clients. My colleague passed on the success of the deal to my boss, taking all the credit for himself even though he was only occasionally involved in the agreement talks and the deal itself”. Its a man eat man world. We all know that. During our submissions or vivas, each person wants to accomplish his tasks and finish his job with as little work as possible but demanding all the credit and the marks. All of us have faced such situations. (FOR THE MOST PART, I personally consider myself blessed to have been around people who have offered me willing and helping hands *taps wood*). However, much of this has given us a foreword, if not completely familiarized us with the “cruel, bitter” and selfish world out there.
Jack of all trades is master of none. There is some truth to the saying. However, in the world that we live in today, living up to this age old saying is not always possible. It does not necessarily mean that we are half-*ssing things that we shouldn’t be. But, how many times has each of us found ourselves writing an assignment while talking on the phone, watching T.V., eating dinner and studying our syllabus at the same time. Multi-taksing is very important in today’s business and professional environment. And my experience has got me to believe that while Mumbai University may not have made us masters (or even jacks) of our trade it has made us Masters of Multi-tasking (should be a degree too).
Last but not the least, Mumbai University has given us the opportunity to network and interact with people from diverse backgrounds and departments. Along the way, we have gained some true friends and valuable contacts. Networking with so many people is one of the best intellectually stimulating and professional opportunities ever. Such contacts and friends will help us along the way professionally. Some of these associates may provide us with helping hands when we need them. But, just remember to help them in return (Good karma will go a long way).
For those of you who feel that your four years under Mumbai University have been a waste, reflect on the above circumstances. For the graduating many : understand the scenarios and implement them in your professional life when the time comes. Albeit academically much of the learning has been done ourselves but our life cycle under Mumbai University has given as a glimpse (yes a minor glimpse but a small lesson nonetheless) into a world that we are all to be a part of (if not already a part of).
A parting thought which I believe will be essential to your success : We have spent the last four years trying to fit in, trying to be a part of the ‘cool’ group, trying to be accepted by everyone, trying to be a part of something and be among the many. But, for the rest of our professional lives (and maybe beyond) we must learn to stand out and get noticed. As BroTips once said : There’s no point trying to fit in when you are born to stand out. Probably the best advice to #GettingAheadInLife (also refer minimum effort and maximum output philosophy).
// Images courtesy – Facebook group https://www.facebook.com/pages/mumbai-university-haaai-haaai-/115959296458